March 12, 2020 Update: For up-to-date local, national, and international information regarding the COVID19 pandemic, see the respective websites below.

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It is all over the news and social media.

There is talk of preparing for major disruption to regular life, school and work.

Some grocery store aisles were shockingly bare over this past weekend.

As expected, the coronavirus is now in the United States, and it is possibly just a matter of days before it is identified in Colorado.

Is it overblown? Time will tell, but I can tell you that the hype does not serve anyone’s nervous system well, and managing your stress will be key if the virus heads our way. One way I manage my stress is by being informed.

While the virus thankfully does not seem to be so challenging for healthy individuals and children, it can be more severe in those over 65 years of age and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. It spreads rather easily, which is the main concern for public health. Additionally it is so new that we don’t know as much about it as we would like to.

Regardless of risk factors, nobody wants to be sick or spread illness to others who are potentially at a higher risk for an adverse event. As the days and weeks progress, it is likely that a person coughing or sneezing out in public will make others feel increasingly uneasy.

What can you do?

  • As always, if you are sick stay at home, or wear a mask to minimize the chance of passing your illness on to someone else if you have to go out. Importantly, public health does not recommend that healthy individuals wear a mask and research suggests that a healthy individual wearing a mask likely increases their chances of contracting an illness due to accidental contamination.
  • Support overall well-being: get plenty of sleep, exercise, fresh air and sunshine when available; practice mindfulness; eat a fruit and vegetable-rich whole foods diet; and do whatever else you employ for stress management.
  • HYDRATION – don’t get caught without your water bottle. I cannot overstate this. My experience is that even a short errand without my water bottle can leave me a little dehydrated, and there have been times where that tipped the scale for me and I succumbed to whatever was going around. Don’t let that be you and stay hydrated all day long.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze in your elbow and make sure everyone in your household/workplace does too.
  • Don’t touch your face throughout your day.
  • Wash your hands frequently and every time you come home.
  • I am not a huge fan of hand sanitizers (research shows soap and water work just as well) but consider keeping some hand sanitizing wipes in your bag and car for when soap and water are not available.
  • Open the windows in your home once every day or so, briefly, especially if someone in your household is sick, and if you haven’t changed your air filter recently now is a good time.

In addition to the above, there are specific supplements that may help. I don’t suggest any old “immune-boosting” supplements, as one of the difficult aspects of the virus is that it can cause an over-reaction of the immune system leading to more severe illnesses and outcomes. See Update below. Rather, I am focusing on anti-viral nutrients and herbs that can be taken daily and increased during any acute viral infection:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Garlic
  • Elderberry
  • Anti-viral formulas:
    • ImmunoberryÔ by Designs for Health
    • ViraCon by Vital Nutrients

Update: Heather Zwickey PhD, immunologist and researcher at the Helfgott Research Institute, says immune supporting herbs, even those that increase cytokine production, will act more as immuno-modulators than immune stimulants and will not cause or contribute to the cytokine storm that is seen in the late stages of this infection.

If you would like guidance on strengthening your health and immunity further against the COVID19 coronavirus or any other wintertime illness, please call my office to schedule an appointment. 720-340-0193

Bone Health, natural osteoporosis prevention, hip fracture, bone health kids, malabsorption, harmony family naturopathic family medicine

DID YOU KNOW…?

The statistics are staggering:

21-30% of those who suffer a hip fracture die within one year.

Known as the “kiss of death,” it typically happens in older adults and can be a terrifying experience.

This is why understanding bone health from our adolescence to adulthood can result in establishing a strong foundation for warding off dangerous outcomes from fractures, breaks, and diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Healthy bone development begins when we are young; up to 80% of our bone mass is established before the age of 18!  This means that our childhood plays just as important of a role in bone health as do our older years.

Following, we take a look at healthy strategies for strong bones in both kids and adults.

DID YOU KNOW…strong bone health starts when we are young so we should help our kids now!

Did you grow up with marketing ads insisting the only way to strong bones was to drink milk?

While calcium is one beneficial nutrient in the overall health of our bones, the solution is more complex than just drinking three cups of milk per day when we are children.

For kids, strong bone development involves good digestion and absorption of nutrient rich foods in addition to an overall healthy lifestyle.

This can include:

– a well-balanced diet of whole foods rich in minerals

– lots of colorful fruits and vegetables

– healthy macro-nutrient fats and carbohydrates

– daily exercise and movement, preferably outdoors

– good rest and quality sleep

But how do you know if your child is properly digesting and absorbing the appropriate nutrients in his or her diet?

Clues such as:

– gas

– bloating

– burping

– inconsistent or abnormal bowel movements

can be signs of troubled digestion.  Call me at (720) 340-0193 if your child is experiencing these symptoms.

DID YOU KNOW…there are a variety of ways we should tackle bone health as we age?

From puberty and beyond, it’s crucial to keep our bone health in check.  An array of strategies that work together to do this include proper gut health, healthy nutrition, good endocrine health, and targeted supplements.

Gut Health
Just like when we are kids, our adult digestive system plays a key role in optimizing the nutrients we absorb.

One thing that attributes to this is normal bowel movements.  Although it may not seem it in our western culture “normal”, healthy consists of three solid, easy to pass movements per day in which a full meal should trigger a movement.  Include a probiotic and fermented foods in your diet for healthy gut flora.

Nutrition
Consuming appropriate amounts of nutrients for strong bones means including a wide variety of colorful plant foods daily.

Bright colors of fruits and vegetables means different antioxidants are present in the food.  Antioxidants counteract dangerous free-radicals that float around our system thanks to stress and poor diet and can cause disease.  By eating a rainbow of different colored produce such as blueberries, carrots, and leafy greens (just to name a few!), we can combat those free-radicals and fight illnesses attributing to bone decline.

Endocrine Health
Our reproductive organs can have quite an impact on our bones.  Starting in puberty, estrogen and progesterone in women are the architect of bones.  As we age, these hormones can decline or become unbalanced making way for bone disease when irregular and skipped periods as well as stress are present, especially during perimenopause and menopause.

For more information on hormonal health, click here.

Supplements
First and foremost, eating a well-balanced healthy diet is most important when it comes to healthy bones.  However, for those who suffer from symptoms of low bone density or other bone issues, supplements can support specific symptoms.

These supplements can include:

– magnesium

– vitamin D

– calcium

– other micro-minerals, sometimes found combined in a bone formula

Supplements should be part of a customized program based on your specific bone health needs; I can help create one for you.

Are you concerned about your bone health?  Have you had worrisome test results or previous issues? Do you have a history of infrequent or irregular periods, especially in adolescence?

If you live in the Boulder or the surrounding Denver metro area and have questions or concerns about your bones, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or send me a message here for us to talk further and find natural solutions that are best for you.

natural heart health, love and heart health, connection to others and heart health, doctor meghan van vleet

Have you ever signed a letter or card by drawing a heart for your salutation?  Do you draw a heart when leaving a note in your child’s lunch box?  Do you “heart” cities around the world?

When we draw a heart it is not representing our physical heart, but rather is a symbol of our love.

What if I were to tell you that the physical heart and the metaphysical heart (the emotional heart) were actually linked?

According to Dr. Dean Ornish, humans are “creatures of community” and need communication, love, and connection with ourselves, others, and the world at large.

Establishing positive relationships that support us and feed our souls are not only good for our emotional health but can affect our physical well-being as well.  Research shows that negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear can cause inflammation in the body and one of the areas affected can be the heart. (www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/uncovering-the-link-between-emotional-stress-and-heart-disease)

So how can you nurture self-love and love for others (the metaphysical heart) in order to strengthen your physical heart health?

Following are three tips towards making marked progress for this goal:

  1. Eat Things That Serve You.

If you find yourself struggling in any area of your life – whether that be work, family, depression, grief, relationships, etc., your body needs extra micronutrients to replenish what it’s using to deal with the stress.

When things are hard, it’s all the more reason to eat nourishing, easy to digest simple food for both our minds and bodies.  Be mindful of restricting diets or trying complicated recipes; stick to foods that warm you and add a superfood in such as mushrooms or turmeric for a little extra boost of nutrients.

But what about those homemade chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth?  It’s okay!  Reaching for something that brings you comfort is not prohibited, just make sure you slow down and really enjoy it. I recommend being extra mindful and savoring the smell, texture, and flavor of every bite. This will help with moderation. Moderation allows you to feel good in the moment, but prevents you from feeling worse in the long run. 

  1. Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings Fully.

This will look different for everyone depending on what is present in your life (job stress, relationship issues, anxiety and fears, etc.), however, it’s important that whatever it is you are dealing with, it is experienced.

It can be easy (& at times appropriate and healthy) for some of us to compartmentalize our challenges, box them up, and place them in a closet out of sight, especially when it comes to dealing with grief, but habitually storing up all of those emotions can result in physical symptoms, not to mention the emotional effects of bottling it all up.

Finding space and time to feel your emotions rather than suppressing them can make all the difference.

Yes, this can bring about tears, but don’t fear it!  The act of crying can be healing – and science agrees.  A biochemical cascade of oxytocin and endorphins are released during crying and in effect, can help us feel better.

  1. Get In Touch With Your Body, Not Just Your Emotions.

Sitting with our emotions is vital to being kind and loving to ourselves. Connecting with our physical body is just as important.

Our bodies physically hold our emotions (different areas for everyone), and by bringing awareness to this we can recognize where we are hurting.

To connect with your body, try:

– meditation/body scans/deep breathing

– restorative yoga/stretching

– walking/hiking

– running

Walking, hiking, or running outdoors with mindful attention to the natural surroundings can provide an extra sense of connection between ourselves and the earth.  It requires paying attention to the experience, such as the temperature, the feel of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the song of the birds, etc. and can be grounding in our relationship to the world as a whole.

Is it time for you to develop your metaphysical heart in order to thrive in your physical well-being?  If so and you live in the Boulder or Denver metro area, please call me at (720) 340-0193 to discuss how naturopathic medicine and my office can help you.

And that is something to “heart”!

 

 

REFERENCES:
https://www.ornish.com
https://www.ornish.com/proven-program/love-support/
https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/uncovering-the-link-between-emotional-stress-and-heart-disease

Thyroid health, thyroid testing, thyroid disease, thyroid natural support, Doctor Meghan Van Vleet

Have your thyroid levels been tested at your primary care physician’s office and were returned normal, yet you are still experiencing unusual symptoms that are typically linked to this hormone’s imbalance?

If so, you’re not the only one.

Many of my clients come to me with results showing normal TSH, a thyroid-stimulating hormone that encourages the thyroid gland to release the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) as well as Free T3 and Free T4 (the active hormones) and are frustrated or confused because they continue to suffer from signs of disfunction.

Commonly, these symptoms (most frequently for the state of hypothyroid) are:

– fatigue

– hair loss

– cold intolerance

– weight gain and difficulty losing weight

– hormone disruption/infertility

– constipation

– dry skin

as well as other unusual signs.

But if your tests results are within range and you are still experiencing unusual symptoms, can you still have thyroid disfunction?

Yes.

Following are three things to know about the health of your thyroid even if your general practitioner evaluation is normal:

  1. TSH is not the only thing to test for; antibodies can expand analysis of thyroid.

In addition to TSH, Free T3 and Free T4, thyroid antibodies can also be tested.  Results showing elevated levels can indicate attack on certain parts of the thyroid, its proteins, as well as any inflammation or disruption of thyroid function.

So why hasn’t your primary care doctor tested these?

Antibodies are not typically tested alongside TSH at a general practitioner office because TSH is the standard for determining whether actual thyroid disease is present such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

And if there isn’t a definitive disease present…there is nothing for traditional western medicine to treat.

The challenge with this is that nonstandard TSH levels are commonly one of the last signs to show up when thyroid disfunction is present.  This means that you may experience a variety of unwanted symptoms much earlier than nonstandard TSH results are reflected.

Frequently, this test is most valuable for women between the ages of 30-50 and most of the clients I treat with abnormal antibody levels are postpartum women in this age range.  I recommend periodic antibody testing throughout these years, particularly for those who have thyroid disfunction in the family.

  1. Thyroid disfunction may be linked to other underlying autoimmune conditions.

Autoimmune disorders happen when the immune system attacks certain cells in the body, disrupting systematic function – and one of those functions can be the thyroid.

This assail on healthy cells can begin to present signs or flare up in mid-life and although not all thyroid conditions are autoimmune related, they can still be linked which means it could very well be a root cause of the hormone’s imbalance.

Holistic treatment of elevated antibodies typically involves broad treatment of autoimmunity as well as specific treatment aimed at bolstering thyroid function.

  1. There are a variety of naturopathic options for thyroid disfunction. 

In addition to prescription hormones that may be needed to balance thyroid, there are naturopathic treatments that can work synergistically or aside from pharmaceuticals, especially for those whose TSH levels are normal, yet have elevated antibodies.

First, nutraceuticals can encourage thyroid production.  Tyrosine, selenium, and zinc can all be beneficial in boosting thyroid levels as well as other supplements that support adrenal health and blood sugar regulation as there can be subtle reverberations (i.e.: symptoms) throughout various systems in the body.  It’s important to take care of the entire body!

Another naturopathic treatment for elevated antibodies is hydrotherapy.  This spa like treatment alternates hot and cold water applications to the front and back of the torso and neck, and can help stimulate the body to produce heat and warm the body – valuable for those in a hypothyroid state.

What’s even better is that after a series of sessions, you can learn to modify the treatment for at-home use.

Finally, lifestyle changes can make a big impact on treating autoimmune effects in which I recommend:

– a clean diet for digestive health

– stress reduction

– good sleep habits

– frequent movement/exercise

– breathing exercises and meditation

as well as other self-care actions that support healthy living.

Paired with nutrient-focused supplements and hydrotherapy, lifestyle changes can be the key to lasting changes for a healthier you.

If you’ve received normal TSH results but still think thyroid disfunction is present, you don’t have to wonder any longer.

If you live in Boulder or the surrounding Denver metro area and would like to discuss your thyroid concerns further, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (720) 340-0193 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Are you ready to get your thyroid checked completely?  Let’s get started.

 

 

REFERENCES:
https://labtestsonline.org/tests/thyroid-antibodies

“What would you say if I told you your son’s mood and behavior problems were due to his genetics?”  – therapist of one of my patients

“Mental health can be affected by diet and stressful life events, but the dominant factor is often genetic or epigenetic differences in brain chemistry.” – William J. Walsh, PhD

What does it mean to have a mood, behavior, or learning problem due to genetics?

I have talked and written before about how the building blocks for our neurotransmitters are amino acids and other nutrients. Possibly more important though is the number and activity of transporter proteins that allow (or don’t) optimal neurotransmitter activity at synapses. Genetic expression, or production, of transporter proteins affects the activity of neurotransmitters. The most commonly talked about example of this has to do with methylation (commonly tested for with genetic testing companies such as 23&Me). Methylation of genetic material called chromatin inhibits production of some neurotransmitter transporters. Undermethylators tend to have reduced serotonin activity and a tendency for depression, whereas overmethylators can have excessive dopamine activity and a tendency for anxiety. Importantly, genetic testing for MTHFR, COMT, or other SNPs do not tell if a person is undermethylated or overmethylated.

Genes and Epigenetics

You have probably heard that having a genetic predisposition for something, for example heart disease, does not determine the eventual development of heart disease. This is true for mental health, and all of genetics as well. Genetic testing does tell you what your genetic code is, but it doesn’t tell you how your genetic code is being expressed. Epigenetics is the system that determines gene regulation and expression. Epigenetics, not genetics, tells us how a system is likely to be functioning. While epigenetic instructions are established in the womb and generally persist through life, environmental insults (ie: physical inury, illness, toxic exposures, powerful medications, emotional trauma, or a combination of influences) can alter the epigenetics through oxidative stress, in the womb or at any point in life, and this is the cause of the manifestation of many physical and mental disorders.

Nutrients Affect Genetic Expression

The good news is that there are simple blood and urine tests that can tell us how a system is functioning (expressing), and gene expression can be influenced by certain nutrients. Biochemical therapy looks for and identifies specific nutrient or chemical imbalances that are known to be the most commonly involved in a myriad of mental health diagnoses. While certain imbalances, such as being over or undermethylated, are commonly associated with anxiety and depression, respectively, it is usually not that straightforward. Every individual is unique, and most people with an existing diagnosis don’t fit neatly into one category of biochemical imbalance; rather they may involve a combination of a variety of imbalances.

High-Incidence Chemical Imbalances

  • Pyrrole Disorder

    • Pyrrole disorder (or pyroluria) is detected by the presence of elevated kryptopyrroles in the urine. This test represents a marker for functional deficiencies of Vitamin B-6 and zinc, and elevated oxidative stress.
    • Symptoms include: poor tolerance of physical and emotional stress, poor anger control, frequent mood swings, poor short term memory, reading disorder, morning nausea, absence of dream recall, frequent anger and rages, depression and high anxiety.
    • Treatments are based on the individual’s age, body weight, lab results, severity of symptoms and ability to metabolize supplements.
  • Histamine

    • Histamine is a marker for methylation status.
    • When histamine is elevated, clinical features include depression, obsessive-compulsive (OCD), perfectionism, seasonal allergies, competitiveness, and internal anxiety.
    • When histamine is too low, there is a tendency for high anxiety, panic disorder, depression, chemical and food sensitivities, music/artistic ability, and empathy for others.
  • Copper

    • Copper is an essential trace element but excessive levels are toxic to the body.
    • Copper overloads tend to lower dopamine levels and increase norepinephrine in the brain. Imbalances in these important neurotransmitters have been associated with anxiety, postpartum depression, ADHD, autism, violent behavior, paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • Zinc

    • Zinc is a trace metal essential for all forms of life.
    • It enhances behavior control to stress and helps maintain intellectual function, memory and mood levels.
    • More than 90% of persons diagnosed with depression, behavior disorder, ADHD, autism and schizophrenia exhibit depleted zinc levels.
    • Zinc deficiency has been associated with delayed growth, temper control problems, poor immune function, depression, poor wound healing, epilepsy, anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders, hormone imbalances and learning problems.

Biochemical nutrient therapy plus other therapies

There are no silver bullets. If you deal with a mental or cognitive health issue, you likely have coping mechanisms (healthy or otherwise) in place. We all have our patterns. Biochemical nutrient therapy, like other therapies such as diet, exercise, mindfulness, breathwork, herbal medicines, hydrotherapy, pharmacoptherapy, etc, is a tool – a big tool, but a tool. To get the most out of it, use it in conjunction with psychotherapy in order to learn new patterns and routines that support your mental health goals.

Work with Meghan Van Vleet ND in Boulder CO

If you are interested in this type of mental health support, please give me a call:

720-340-0193.

I am happy to work collaboratively with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, primary care providers, and other care providers.

 

Sources:

Walsh, William. Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014.

Walsh, William J, and Malcolm Sickels. Mastering Brain Chemistry Physician Education Workshop, 27-30 Apr. 2019, Evanston, IL.

As a naturopathic doctor, I have been intentional about the way I live. I eat well and regularly get enough sleep. I have always maintained an active lifestyle, beginning with competitive gymnastics as a child, backpacking, marathon running, bike commuting, trail running, yoga, and I am the mother of 2 children. Yet, at 45 years old I had suffered 3 ankle breaks in 3 years and chronic to sometimes acute back pain that stopped me in my tracks for days to weeks, stealing my fitness away. I wondered how someone who works so hard at health and well-being could be suffering this way. Was I really just getting old?

What is aging?

What is aging, other than the passage of time? In 2013, researchers characterized aging as a progressive loss of physiological integrity, leading to impaired function and increased vulnerability to death, and even identified 9 hallmarks of aging. Among these hallmarks are a variety of genetic and epigenetic effects (epigenetics has to do with whether or not a gene is actually expressed), plus:

  • mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria are the powerhouse of every cell in the body)
  • cellular senescence (oxidative stress and cell death)
  • stem cell exhaustion (stem cells are what the body uses in order to repair itself)
  • altered intercellular communication (endocrine, neuronal, and immune system signaling declines)

Naturopathic Medicine With Meghan Van Vleet ND

While in my practice I use therapeutic modalities to effect all of the hallmarks, in this blog post I focus on the bulleted hallmarks above. Why? Because as my astute colleague, Tyna Moore ND, DC has elucidated, these are all associated with sarcopenia, or diminished lean muscle mass. We know that breathing, eating well, drinking plenty of clean water and getting exercise are components of a healthy lifestyle. But you may not know that building muscle mass, specifically, is incredibly beneficial, far beyond physique and weight. In other words, yes, we can build muscle as medicine.

What Lean Muscle Mass Does For Us

Besides making a person strong, which has many benefits of its own, having and maintaining lean muscle mass:

  • Increases cognitive function via BDNF
  • Helps maintain blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases metabolism
  • Increases testosterone (beneficial for both men and women)
  • Increases Human Growth Hormone (commonly prescribed for weight loss)
  • Helps in the conversion of thyroid hormone from the inactive to the active form
  • Increases mitochondrial synthesis (remember, mitochondria are the powerhouses of our body)
  • Reduces pain (most notably back pain, but also neck other joint pain, fibromyalgia pain, etc)
  • Improves immune function
  • Offers better prognosis if confronted with a cancer diagnosis
  • Increases bone density
  • Improves mood
  • Increases adaptive abilities to various stressors as we age

Who would not want all of that? More importantly, I bet there is something specific in that list that you could use more of. Most all conditions could benefit from increased muscle mass.

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia translates literally as “poverty of flesh” and refers to the muscle loss that typically begins between 30-40 years old. That is 8% loss of muscle mass per decade until the age of 70, and then it increases to 15% per decade. Arguably, with the population spending more and more time in front of devices, this is likely starting even younger. There is a relatively new term for seemingly thin people with poor, fatty muscle mass: TOFI – Thin outside, Fat Inside. TOFI refers to the finding that many people with a seemingly good BMI actually have fatty infiltrate in their muscles, classifying some as obese despite being thin. Folks with TOFI have all the health risks of the outwardly obese.

The Best Way to Build Lean Muscle Mass

The best, most efficient & comprehensive way to build muscle mass and functional strength is with strength training with free weights. Weight machines artificially isolate muscle groups and force movements that aren’t functional in nature, ie: don’t reproduce movements of your daily activities that you want to be strong in. Strength training with free weights requires the coordinated use of multiple muscle groups spanning multiple joints throughout the body and prepare the body to be strong in the face of everyday physical challenges. Additionally, using free weights increases grip strength; poor grip strength is a major risk factor for a fall.

Lean Muscle Mass Reduces Risk of Falls

Interestingly, the strongest risk factors for a fall as a person ages, all of which can be positively affected by strength training with free weights, include:

  • mobility impairment
  • reduced knee, hip, or ankle strength (strong, coordinated muscle groups surrounding a joint increase joint strength)
  • reduced grip strength
  • Difficulty arising from a chair (think loaded squats)
  • Number of medications (see list of benefits of maintaining lean muscle mass above)

Build Muscle Mass Safely

The key to efficiently building lean muscle mass though is to do it safely, which requires a trainer, at least to start. Using free weights properly 2-3x/week as part of an active, healthy lifestyle is the key to “everyday fitness”, as Karen Harbour of Bella Strength in Boulder, CO calls it. Because the pain of sore muscles is different than the pain of inflamed joints, this everyday fitness is what can enable a person to do work around the house, the yard, maybe schlepping kids (or grandkids) & all their stuff, go on long runs, or whatever your jam is…without causing acute or chronic pain. You might be getting older and beginning to feel or show more vulnerability, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.

Frailty Syndrome

I realized that at 46 years old, I was developing “frailty syndrome”, which is a viscious cycle:

Pain/injury –> loss of full mobility –> deconditioning & loss of muscle mass –> pain/injury

Additionally, I realized that for at least 3-4 years, around the time that my youngest child was too big to pick up regularly, that I had not lifted anything heavy with regularity as part of my daily activities.

Aha moments of clarity mobilize me into action. I headed to the gym for the first time in my life to see if they might help me with my everyday fitness. Only six weeks in and things are changing for me. It is a slow and steady road, and I am glad to be on it and taking charge of my health in a whole new way.

Lean Muscle Mass Can Benefit You

Consider your own trajectory. Do you experience chronic or sometimes acute pain? Are you prone to injury? Are you fit-but-fragile like I was, or maybe you just lack strength. Now consider again the list of benefits maintaining lean muscle mass offers your overall health and well-being and whether or not you are in need of any of those benefits. I encourage you to consider adding strength training into your wellness routine.

Wellness with Meghan Van Vleet ND in Boulder CO

If you need support with your health goals, give me a call: 720-340-0193

 

SOURCES:

Grimbly G, Saltin B. The ageing muscle. Clin Physiol. 1983;3(3):209-218.

Institute of Medicine (US) Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. “Falls in Older Persons: Risk Factors and Prevention.” The Second Fifty Years: Promoting Health and Preventing Disability., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1992, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235613/.

López-Otín, Carlos, et al. “The Hallmarks of Aging.” Cell, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 June 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3836174/.

Moore, Tyna. “Muscle as Medicine: Balancing Health Through Strength Training” OANP 2019.

 

We all know the stoner stereotypes: an unmotivated dude living in mom and dad’s basement, content passing time on video games and munching Cheetos, a free-loader.

Given that classic perception, have you begun to wonder what is behind the current CBD craze? It seems to be touted almost as a silver bullet – good for whatever ails you.

Maybe you have been curious but might be intimidated to go into a pot shop. Or maybe you have visited a pot shop but found yourself overwhelmed and confused by all the options and have reservations about the advice given by the folks selling the product. Maybe you brought home a hemp product from the grocery store yet are unsure how to take it.

You wonder if it really is beneficial or even if it’s safe.

This post briefly sheds some light on the history of marijuana and its medicinal uses, research and current understandings, and then examines CBD as a treatment.

Background on CBD with Meghan Van Vleet, Naturopathic Doctor in Boulder, CO

Cannabis has been used for centuries. It was actually approved by the FDA until the early 1940’s, but as a medical aid, it was not used reliably because products were too inconsistent, offering variable results.

THC and CBD are cannabinoids and are found in both hemp and cannabis plants. Once they were identified and research on cannabinoids began, scientists discovered that the human body actually manufactures its own cannabinoids. These self-made cannabinoids, termed endocannabinoids, work with receptors found in every tissue in the body.

This system of cannabinoids and receptors in the body has been identified as ‘the endocannabinoid system’; it is highly complex, constantly in flux, difficult to study, and unique from one individual to another.

Additionally, the therapeutic effects of THC and CBD are extremely dose dependent: too low a dose may offer no benefit, whereas too high a dose can cause adverse effects. The beneficial dose is a narrow window.

Adding to the overall complexity, there exists not just one cannabinoid in any hemp or cannabis plant, rather each plant is known to contain several cannabinoids so far, and likely more will yet be discovered. Each of these cannabinoids acts differently in the body.

CBD: Is it Good For What Ails You?

Current understanding of our endocannabinoid system is that it tries to create balance for several human functions:

  • appetite
  • sleep
  • relaxation
  • how we remember and forget
  • pain-sensation

The complexity of the endocannabinoid system lends itself to having therapeutic potential for many different states or conditions. In fact, Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome exists as a recognized medical malady; its associations include conditions typically resistant to pharmacotherapy such as migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

As the research continues, cannabinoids are now being prescribed and used to effectively treat pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, any neural inflammation, autoimmune states, and more; further, it has effects on the urinary tract as well as the digestive tract.

Not surprisingly, in populations over 60 years, it may reduce the need for polypharmacy and many over-the-counter medications.

CBD safety

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the cannabinoid that has been most studied. It does not induce tolerance or dependence.

That said, the greatest therapeutic effect comes from a full-spectrum preparation – meaning a variety of cannabinoids, even trace amounts of THC. This is called the Entourage Effect and speaks to the synergy and therapeutic potential of all of the cannabinoids in a given plant when administered as a whole. For example, CBD can counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC.

The most commonly reported side effect of non-psychoactive (<.3% THC) preparations is sleepiness, in which case dosing in the evening is optimal.

THC is known to delay brain maturation and should not be used prior to 25 years of age. After 25 years, adverse effects of THC are significantly reduced, but can still cause temporary impairment with psychoactivity.

Importantly, cannabinoids are metabolized by the liver and also effect serotonin. While these facts are not contraindications for use, they are important considerations for use and medication monitoring.

Some CBD products may worsen allergies in an allergic individual

CBD during pregnancy and lactation

Animal models show no adverse results in pregnancy, however, there exist no human studies in pregnancy and therefore CBD is not considered safe. Endocannabinoids are normally found in breast milk of women not using marijuana or any other cannabinoid, but research shows that THC consumption is disproportionately concentrated in breast milk and poses potential threat to brain development in the baby. Additionally, unlike alcohol that clears the breast milk fast enough to “pump & dump”, cannabinoids persist in breastmilk for up to 6 days after a one-time use/dose.

Do more “official” routes of access to CBD products exist?

The passage of medical marijuana laws is nearly pervasive throughout the United States. In states like Colorado we have legalized marijuana and blanket access to a wide variety of products and potencies, medical card or not. Many CBD products are derived from hemp rather than cannabis (marijuana) and are often available at a standard grocery store (containing <.3% THC).

Meanwhile, despite widespread access to the public, there are very strict guidelines regarding cannabis research & access to funding. Often the products that are available are not the same ones that are being researched.

The industry is not highly regulated, and more often than not the people disseminating information to the consumer are not medically trained. All of this makes navigating the use of cannabinoids for therapeutic effect difficult.

Guidelines for Selecting a Cannabinoid Product

Product selection can be daunting and takes some investigation to be thorough. Many products do not contain what they say on the label.

Read labels carefully and ask for a Certificate of Analysis issued by a third party, and then read it carefully as well. Make sure that it was issued for the lot/batch of the product you are considering.

Generally speaking, a full-spectrum hemp product is a good place to start because full spectrum products often offer greater benefit at lower dosages due to the entourage effect, and hemp has only trace amounts of THC. Dosing should “start low and go slow” in order to determine the optimum dose. Avoid blended products available targeted to solve particular problems, such as sleep, for example until you have determined your optimal dose.

Naturopathic Medical Advice on Taking a CBD Product from Meghan Van Vleet, ND

Many doctors today are still unfamiliar with and wary of using any kind of CBD product. Find a doctor who is educated on products, dosing, interactions, conditions that may or may not benefit from taking a cannabinoid, as well as someone who is willing to work with you to help you find the right product and dosage for you.

If you have a CBD product sitting at home but you don’t know how to take it, if you have been considering trying a CBD product to help you reach your health goals, or if you wonder if a condition you are dealing with makes you a good candidate to try CBD, give me a call: 720-340-0193

 

Hormone Health in the Reproductive Years

Hormonal health during reproductive years might play the most significant role in a woman gracefully moving through the different phases in her life, yet many doctors suppress women’s reproductive hormone production often as a matter of course, in some cases as soon as a young woman begins cycling. While the use of synthetic hormones is indicated in many cases, in just as many or more cases, practitioners prescribe it as an easy, quick, and short-sighted “fix” with long-term ramifications.

Many cases of difficult conception, as well as severely symptomatic perimenopausal years, could be prevented, or at least moderated, by focusing on hormonal health earlier in development. Rather than “controlling” menstrual irregularities, it would be of greater benefit to try to understand and address the underlying cause.

A Naturopathic Approach to Hormonal Health

A naturopathic approach looks to optimize biological functions. The human body exists not as a set of separate systems in isolation; its parts and roles are complexly interwoven, so suppressing one biological function will invariably affect the whole.

Additionally, naturopathic philosophy approaches the human body with an assumption that it possesses inherent wisdom in its functioning. Often, disrupted menses presents as an initial sign that some other less obvious function is experiencing duress. Biologically, fertility and reproduction are not required for survival, thus, they are considered higher functions—functions that can be neglected in challenging times, ie: when our bodies are dealing with more significant, even if yet unidentified, issues.

The body communicates to us with its symptomatology, asking us to pay attention. If you have struggled with hormonal health in the past or currently experience hormones gone awry and have concerns about your hormonal health for the future, read on, and consider working with a naturopathic doctor.

Oral Contraception Pill (OCP) Use

It may surprise you to learn that the prescription of oral contraception, or other delivery forms of synthetic reproductive hormones, often has nothing to do with contraception. Common reasons for prescribing synthetic hormones include:

  • Painful menses
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular cycles
  • Amenorrhea (no menses)
  • PMS/mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Acne

The symptoms that a conventional medical approach would suppress in an attempt at hormonal “regulation” are the same symptoms that a naturopath would use to help understand how best to support the body in achieving balance on its own. Rather than seeking simply “regularity”, the goal is to seek health.

Synthetic Hormones Are Not Your Hormones

Instead of truly balancing a woman’s hormones, oral contraceptive pills turn off the body’s own hormone production, masking whatever the underlying issue might be by forcing “balanced hormones”. Naturally produced progesterone comes from ovulation, and in addition to reproductive health, progesterone does some amazing things for women:

  • Stimulates the thyroid
  • Helps regulate adrenal function
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Builds muscle mass
  • Promotes sleep
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Calms the nervous system

Synthetic progestins (in all OCPs as well as all other hormonal birth control) do suppress ovulation (prevent conception) and help regulate cyclic bleeding, but because they are chemically different from progesterone, they don’t follow the same biochemical conversions that progesterone does, and so they don’t offer the same global actions as your body’s own progesterone. Just take a look at the effects of progesterone, above, one more time – everyone can agree, those are desirable qualities.

Additionally, synthetic hormones come with side effects that can include nausea, weight gain, headaches, depressed mood, anxiety, heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. Many women will have trouble conceiving after extended use of an OCP because synthetic hormones turn the body’s own reproductive hormone production off, and it may take several months for that production to kick back in.

True Hormonal Health

The number one thing a person can do to support their entire endocrine system is to maintain optimal blood sugar control. All the different aspects of the endocrine system affect all the other endocrine functions. Reproductive hormones remain integral to the rest of the endocrine system, as well as to overall health.

Visualize the endocrine system as a three-legged stool (with the floor being blood sugar control – if not well-controlled and level, the stool will fall over – the whole thing becomes dysfunctional). The three stool legs are:

  • the thyroid
  • reproductive hormones
  • the adrenals (stress hormones)

Regarding blood sugar, consider that:

  • Diabetic patients or those with blood sugar dysregulation can have difficulty conceiving.
  • Blood sugar dysregulation is a big stress to the body, leading to adrenal/cortisol dysregulation.
  • Blood sugar dysregulation can induce changes in the thyroid gland.

When one leg of the “endocrine stool” isn’t working optimally, the other ones will be affected.

  • Note that hypothyroid patients have trouble conceiving.
  • Progesterone effects the thyroid and helps regulate the HPA axis (adrenal function).
  • The adrenal glands are responsible for managing stress, and when the adrenals are overworked and putting out a lot of adrenaline and cortisol, your body down-regulates functions unnecessary to fight/flight survival – the thyroid function to some extent and…reproduction.

Reproductive Hormonal Health is a Marker for Whole Body Health

As revealed, a smooth monthly cycle with minimal symptoms cannot happen if other systems are stressed. In this way, the monthly cycle heralds the need to pay attention to and take care of other aspects of your health. Therefore, if the monthly cycle is not regular with minimal symptoms, it warrants an investigation of blood sugar, thyroid, and adrenal function. Because it takes three months for an egg to reach full maturity before ovulation, the progesterone-making ability during any given month depends on the overall endocrine health of the previous three months. In other words: With appropriate treatment, it may take several months to achieve hormonal health.

You Need Birth Control

Of course, an unwanted pregnancy poses some life and health challenges of its own and should not be minimized. How can a woman achieve optimal hormonal health and also avoid pregnancy? I encourage you to explore all the contraceptive options available with your doctor and your partner, if you have one, and consider doing what you can to maintain ovulation – the source of your progesterone.

Perimenopause – The Great Change

Perimenopause can start anywhere from 2-12 years before menopause and is when you will experience the most symptoms. Symptoms are due to the now-inconsistent levels of estrogen as well as a decline in the production of progesterone and all of its benefits outlined above. Symptoms include:

  • Heavy or longer flow
  • Shorter cycles
  • Sore breasts
  • Mid-sleep waking
  • Increased menstrual cramps
  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Increased premenstrual mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Heart palpitations

If you have worked towards hormonal health before perimenopause begins, you will likely have an easier time. At menopause, symptoms will quiet down as the body settles into its new normal. This does not mean, however, that you have to wait for menopause for relief.

A Naturopathic Approach to Perimenopause

Hormonal health throughout your reproductive years can reduce perimenopausal symptoms. Remember how progesterone effects the rest of the endocrine system? These other aspects of your endocrine system are what your body will “lean-in” on during the swings of perimenopause. The health of the entire endocrine system will make the transition to menopause easier. Hormonal health during reproductive years provide you with resilient endocrine health during perimenopause. Additionally, the naturopathic approach to perimenopause is similar to the approach for reproductive health – essentially supporting the entire endocrine system with the foundation being blood sugar stabilization.

Work with Meghan Van Vleet, ND in Boulder, CO on Optimizing Hormonal Health

If you are interested in exploring how your monthly cycle and symptoms can help direct optimal healthy habits and lifestyle choices, if you experience an irregular and highly symptomatic cycle, if you are having difficulty conceiving, or if you find yourself in the midst of perimenopause and all of its symptoms and are needing support, give me a call. I can help

 

 

 

We have all thought it, and we have all done it. A thought makes you “sick to your stomach”. Faced with a tough choice or situation, you go with your “gut-instinct”. These phrases have been in our vernacular for a long time, and yet, we have forgotten their literal meaning. In fact, these familiar idioms happen to be true. We have a bi-directional highway of information and instruction between our gut and our brain.

Treating The Mind And The Body Naturopathically in Boulder, CO

Many people suffering from mental health issues also have gastrointestinal symptoms but never correlate them. Meanwhile, a naturopathic approach to gut health has been beneficial for people dealing with mental health issues, even when no gastrointestinal symptoms are reported.

A variety of pharmaceutical medications exist for gastrointestinal symptoms. Unsurprisingly, and not unlike the pharmaceutical approach to mental health, these medicines treat just one aspect of a person’s experience.

A naturopathic approach treats the whole person a treatment for longevity. Pharmaceuticals can have nasty side-effects, and often are not safe for long-term use.

Our minds and our bodies are one entity; treating them that way offers the best outcomes for whole-person well-being.

Gut Health is Determined by The Gut Microbiome

Before I dive deep into the bi-directional gut-brain connection, we need to understand the foundation of gut health. It is determined by the state of the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome is the collective community of microbes inhabiting the gut. We need a healthy gut microbiome because they serve many, many important functions in the body. Specifically, they:

  • Form a protective barrier to the enterocytes, our cells that line the intestines.
  • Produce organic acids to control the pH near the wall of the gut, making the environment unfriendly to harmful microbes.
  • Produce various anti-microbial substances against harmful microbes that might otherwise make us sick.
  • Stimulate the immune system to respond to harmful microorganisms.
  • Are helpful in neutralizing toxic environmental substances
  • Can inactivate histamine (see my PWCB blog post on histamine and mental health)
  • Can chelate heavy metals
  • Suppress hyperplastic processes in the gut, which is the basis of cancer formation
  • Provide a major source of energy and nutrients for the enterocyte cells lining the gut.
  • Are involved in every part of digestion and absorption in the gut.
  • Have identified roles in mood, emotional regulation, neuromuscular function, and regulation of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis.

Know What Harms The Gut Microbiome

Knowing all of the amazing things that the gut microbiome does for us, it is also helpful to be aware of things that will disrupt it. The following will damage healthy gut flora:

  • Antibiotics
  • A diet of refined carbs, sweeteners, chemically altered foods, and otherwise highly processed packaged foods.
  • Prolonged fasting
  • Disease/illness
  • Stress
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Extreme physical exertion
  • Alcoholism
  • A variety of drugs
  • Toxic exposures
  • Extreme climates

Support The Gut Microbiome

Eating well protects the gut.

Dietary factors that will support gut microbiome health: A whole foods diet high in vegetable fiber, including fermented foods and free from packaged, processed foods, added sweeteners, and fake-food ingredients.

Gut Microbes Regulate The Gut-Brain Connection

Gut microbes (good or bad) regulate the bi-directional gut-brain communication pathway. The four identified major pathways within it include:

  1. Neurologic Pathway – involved in production of neurotransmitters in the gut such as GABA, serotonin, melatonin, histamine, acetylcholine, as well as the generation of catecholamines.
  2. Endocrine Pathway – involved in sleep/wake cycle regulation, feeding, mood, blood pressure regulation, and the stress response by directly stimulating cortisol release from the adrenal cortex and norepinepherine from the adrenal medulla.
  3. Humoral/Metabolic Pathway – bacterial metabolites exert hormone-like activity, have immunomodulatory properties, stimulate the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system, are involved in behavior modulation, regulate the synthesis of gut-derived serotonin (approximately 95% of total body serotonin). A bacterial metabolite called LPS stimulates an immune response and is known to be elevated in patients with major depressive disorder.
  4. Immune Pathway – immune-mediated gut inflammation is stimulated during times of dysbiosis, increasing gut-wall permeability and dysregulating bi-directional communication of the gut-brain axis as well as activating pain sensory pathways leading to visceral hypersensitivity.

Diet to Restore Gut Health after Acute Infection Guide

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Anxiety And Depression Occur With Gastrointestinal Disorders

Given the body of biochemical research and evidence, it is no surprise that mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are strongly linked to gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Research also demonstrates that individuals who suffer from anxiety, for instance, can have an exacerbation after acute illness or antibiotic administration. Similarly, findings into gastrointestinal diseases show that individuals with IBS/IBD often have psychological diagnoses as well.

Day to Day Well-Being with Meghan Van Vleet, ND

Naturopathic doctors specialize in Whole Body Health, and naturopathic philosophy understood the gut-brain connection long before the research validated it. We can all put the gut-brain connection information to use in our day to day.

I suggest supporting a healthy gut-brain pathway through your daily habits and routines (discussed here), and using the knowledge of the bi-directional pathway when developing healthy strategies. Understanding that you can affect your gut health with your mental health (and vice versa) can offer coping mechanisms for life.

Naturopathic Coping Strategies For Life

For example, if your dietary routines are interrupted by forces outside of your control such as travel, holidays, or eating out, what do you do?

You might suffer with GI distress and get thrown off your entire game. Maybe your anxiety is triggered and your mood is compromised. Maybe both.

Knowing these possibilities (and possibly having experienced them before), consider minimizing/mitigating your situation by applying a different approach:

  • Use mindfulness and gratitude. Acknowledge that while the food you are eating is not normally part of your wellness plan, you can still be thankful for food, you can be thankful for the company that you share your food with, and you can be grateful for the celebration that the food is a part of, etc. Most importantly, you can enjoy the experience of the foods you partake in relish it.
  • Try a meditation. Research has shown that food that is prayed over can have less of an inflammatory impact and is more easily digested. Instead of worrying about the harmful effects a meal or snack might have on your health, consider doing a visualization meditation where the food that you eat nourishes your body, every cell, your whole being.

Stressful Times: More Important Than Ever To Support The Gut

Conversely, life can deal us some surprises.

When you find yourself in the aftermath of a particularly stressful event, trauma, or illness, you may feel like your overall health takes a huge hit. In stressful times, when energy resources might be low, supporting optimal gut health is more important than ever.

The best way to support your gut is through the right diet. It helps quench the inflammation generated by any variety of stressors. Additionally, stress puts higher nutrient demands on your body which, if not met, can contribute to poor mental health and cognitive function.

Be Proactive: Work With A Naturopathic Doctor

Working with a naturopathic doctor can help you organize your day and life in a way that is proactive, rather than reactive. Expect life disruptions and have backup plans.

  • Keep 1 or 2 nourishing, gut soothing meals in the freezer 
  • Know where you can get pre-prepared meals that fit the bill.
  • If you can’t make your yoga class, for example, try 5-10 minutes of mindfulness and movement at home or in your hotel room.
  • Have an app on your phone for mindfulness/meditation that you can use whenever you have 3 spare minutes.

Doctor As Teacher: A Principle Of Naturopathic Medicine

Change can be hard.

Lifestyle changes don’t need to happen overnight.

Let new education and understanding be the driving force behind your efforts.  Working with a naturopathic doctor will give you a new education and understanding; it will help you make proactive lifestyle changes.

Knowing about the bi-directional gut-brain highway can help you best strategize when you are unable to control aspects of your situation and life.

Work With Meghan Van Vleet, ND, Naturopath in Boulder, CO

If you suffer with any amount of gastrointestinal discomfort, or if you struggle with your mental health, give me a call. I can help.

720-340-0193 or book online now.

A staggering one out of every ten Americans take an antidepressant. That means even here in sunny Boulder, CO, we have a lot of folks getting a chemical assist.

A Naturopathic Approach Compared To Western Medicine

All medication comes with unintended side effects. For some, unpleasant side effects are significantly disruptive – they may feel like completely different people on medication. Undoubtedly, medication has its place and is a useful tool, yet it only treats one aspect of a person.

A naturopathic approach seeks to discover the root biological factors of disturbed mental health, and treats the person holistically, in an attempt to normalize brain biochemistry and function, rather than override it.

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, consider working with a naturopathic doctor.

Functional, Integrative Medicine in Boulder, CO

In my naturopathic practice, I have a functional, integrative approach. I collaborate with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, as well as primary care providers.

While a psychotherapist’s main focus is often talk therapy (among other specialized modalities, e.g. EMDR), a psychiatrist specializes in psychiatric medications and all of their nuances. Both types of practitioners today are likely familiar with how

  • Lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, etc)
  • Family history
  • Biological factors

contribute to mental health.

However, not many psychotherapists or psychiatrists are familiar with the long list of biological factors/stressors that could actually be causing (or at least contributing) to one’s depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Naturopathic Insights into Depression and Anxiety with Meghan Van Vleet, ND

Your doctor is likely not looking at these factors, and often when they do, they do not look with a lens of functional medicine understanding.

A naturopathic approach takes into consideration a diverse set of factors, including:

  • A person’s story and symptoms
  • Lifestyle
  • Family history
  • Physical exam findings
  • Targeted laboratory testing.

Through this comprehensive picture, a naturopathic doctor may gain insight on what might be contributing, or causative, factors in a person’s experience of depression or anxiety.

Naturopathy Considers Biological Factors with Mental Health

Biological factors may include:

  • Poor diet/nutrition
  • Blood sugar imbalance
  • Chronic stress
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Dysbiosis and/or leaky gut
  • Lack of exercise
  • Less than optimal sleep habits
  • Environmental toxin exposure
  • Copper overload
  • B6 deficiency
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Methyl/folate imbalances
  • Amino acid imbalances
  • Undetected chronic infections.

If any of the above are affecting you, discovering and resolving these issues can go a long way toward helping you feel like yourself again.

Naturopathic Treatment

Naturopathic treatment plans always address the whole person/whole body, and include nutrition (both food and supplements), herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, as well as prioritizing, goal setting, and help strategizing a pathway to whole body wellness.

Treat the Whole Person

It is a core naturopathic principle to “Treat the Whole Person”. What exactly does this mean? To start, it means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The doctor approaches each patient as an integrated whole being rather than a set of symptoms to be treated individually.

For example, if someone has chronic inflammation and trouble sleeping, a conventionally trained doctor might offer an anti-inflammatory and a sleeping pill. In treating the whole, I might address pain, but also

  • reduce input to inflammatory pathways with diet & lifestyle recommendations
  • support anti-inflammatory pathways with nutrition and herbs
  • Explore all of the reasons that might cause a person to have trouble sleeping (racing mind, what they ate for dinner, unsupportive bedtime routines, chronic stress, etc).

We can address these things knowing that if we uncover the cause of sleep disturbance, it will go a long way towards lowering inflammation.

Treating the Whole Person for Mental Health

A naturopathic approach to mental health would be similar. Lifestyle habits and routines affect mental health and well-being, as illustrated by many of the causative/contributing factors listed above.

What are your habits, routines, and patterns? Do they serve you and your goals?

Are you a creature of habit or do you “go with the flow?” Both are fine, but also have their limitations.

If your routines are interrupted by forces outside of your control, how do you react? If you can’t exercise are you cranky? How do you compensate?

Does “going with the flow” mean that you’re eating on the fly? What are you eating when you are in a hurry? Equally important, how are you eating? Are you too busy to take time out of your day to relax while you eat?

Working towards Mental Health with Meghan Van Vleet, ND in Boulder, CO

When I work with my patients, I educate them. We prioritize and problem solve by organizing their days to be proactive, rather than reactive.

To start, I have my patients identify their “Bare Minimums”: the bare minimum you need every day/week/month/year to support your own well-being.

Next, I support them in creatively achieving their bare minimums for well-being. For example, a bare-minimum of exercise on any given day might be a 10-minute brisk walk, knowing that some movement is better than none at all.

Bare minimums are highly individual and change from one stage of life to another, depending on each person’s circumstances. Often little adjustments can have great effects, and little successes pave the way for greater opportunities. Over time, little changes add up.

Opportunity, Not Quick Fixes in Mental Health

To summarize, mental health can be challenging, yet with any challenge exists an equally great opportunity! While a naturopathic approach is not always a quick fix, it may be surprising to discover that the pharmaceutical approach to mental health is not always quick either. It often takes time, patience, trial, and error, as well as a skilled psychiatrist to find the right medication and dosage for an individual.

Naturopathic Treatment of Mental Health Leads to Whole Body Health

Addressing the whole person is a treatment for longevity. Conversely, the long-term use of many pharmaceuticals has increasing detrimental effects such as dependence (in the case of sleeping pills); dementia or foggy brain (in the case of some anxiety medications). From a holistic perspective, mental health can be the herald for whole body health.

If you are struggling with mental health and are interested in this whole body approach, call me today and we can develop treatment options that are right for you.

720-340-0193